I do love okra especially when they are grilled or broiled in the oven.
Traditionally, Indians have fried okra, in tons of oil as the vegetable tends to really suck up the oil. I have for years been broiling them in the oven with a fraction of the oil sprayed on top to get delicate and crisp okra. The broiled version is just as well flavored but so much more healthier.
This recipe is absolutely delicious. Admittedly, it does take some work to stuff each okra, but the dish is so well received that it is so worth the effort. Once you get into the swing of stuffing them, it is quite simple. These okra are crisp and pop with sour-spicy flavors of the masala. Compared to most recipes, this recipe uses ground almonds, the nutty flavors add a wonderful richness and nuance to the dish, one I really like. I tend to like to serve them as an appetizer of finger food with drinks and they seem to disappear almost immediately.
Yamuna Devi's cookbook is probably the first cookbook I bought when I moved to the US 30 years ago for my Ph.D. Over the years, I have cooked almost half the recipes, it is the cookbook that taught me technique, flavor profiles and always gave me a wonderful meal. This vegetarian cookbook is essential on any shelf, it is the bible of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
1 1/2 lbs okra, about 30 pieces. Choose the youngest, soft okra that are very tender and not woody.
2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
20 almonds, toasted lightly and ground
3/4 teaspoon aamchoor powder
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon ghee
Oil as need
Whipped yogurt (optional)
Pre-heat the oven on broil mode.
Mix all the ingredients for the spice mix, except okra, oil spray and yogurt, into a thick paste, it should have the consistency of oatmeal. Add the ghee and just enough oil to make the paste. Taste the spice mix, it should be very pungent, spicy, salty, sour and full of flavor. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in each okra from the stem to almost the tip. The slit should not be through the okra, but deep enough to create a small pocket.
Using a knife, I find that it is the best tool, but you may use any utensil of choice, fill the spice mix into the slit okra. This can get a bit tedious, but it is not very tough once you get the hang of it.
Line a baking sheet with foil and line the stuffed okra in a single layer with the stuffed spices on top. Spray with the olive oil and broil about 12 inches from the broiler for about 10-12 minutes till the spices are cooked and the okra soft and tender. Do not overcook them, they turn stringy and tough to eat. Remove and serve immediately either plain or drizzled with a touch of whipped yogurt.